The project examines how population groups in southern Africa cope with an unpredictable social, political and physical environment. Researchers within the project
Ethnographic fieldwork is carried out with seven different groups:
The comparative analysis shows that the livelihoods of rural communties in southern Africa have been endangered throughout the last two centuries, the main hazards being violent conflict, enforced eviction and/or encapsulation. Droughts and degradation added up to the range of hazards. Major coping mechanisms are above all a heavy investment of capital and time into social networks and the diversification of productive strategies.
Lately however, with the end of the Apartheid era in southern Africa options
and contraints changed. Whilst most actors have more agency than in former
times, we observe at the same time an increasing competition over scarce resources.
Recent developments in Namibia and South Africa contribute to the use of ethnic
identity as an instrument to cope with risks and crisis for some groups. Ethnic “communities” try
to revitalize or reinvent traditions and traditional leadership in order to
safe-guard key-resources or to gain access to new ones. Non-governmental organizations,
working on an international level, are central for the mobilisation of ethnic
consciousness and the use of cultural capital on the local level.
[Project C1] [Project C8] [Project
C10] [Project C11] [Project